Surrogacy is a hot topic in India. Activist and women’s groups are very much engaged in active research and policy work to ensure women working as surrogates are legally supported with rights that protect their interests.
And it seems that artists are also engaging in this subject. ‘Rabdi‘ is the story of a woman who chooses surrogacy work to make enough money to provide a better education and medical care for her disabled child.
“I have made something so much bigger than anything I could make in the factory” Indrani, Gestational carrier
Dr Sharmila Rudrappa’s recent article in ASA’s journal Contexts is based on interviews with women who previously worked as gestational carriers in Bangalore, India. It is well written and worth the read as Rudrappa has managed to cut through the academic jargon and cover many of the relevant issues in a relatively small space. Every surrogacy/infertility centre in India is different and the background of the women working as surrogates differs from one to the next. My findings, like Rudrappa’s, indicated that surrogate workers were of the working classes and that they were happy to work as surrogates. However, where most of the surrogates I spoke with had different work histories ranging from domestic workers to pharmacy assistants the women in Rudrappa’s study had almost all been working in garment factories. Like Pande, Rudrappa views surrogacy work as an extension of factory work. Unlike the exhausting and dehumanising impact of factory work and “given their employment options and their relative dispossession, they believed that Bangalore’s reproduction industry afforded them greater control over their emotional, financial, and sexual lives. In comparison to garment work, surrogacy was easy”(Rudrappa, Sociologist).